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    Yang Chengchuan said a few more words to each of the two brothers, and then waved them to go to their respective rooms. Tang Junhe walked out after Yang Xuan, and once the door was closed, he reached out and pulled Yang Xuan’s arm.

    Yang Xuan glanced back at him, and Tang Junhe let him go.

    “Where have you been these past few days?” Tang Junhe daringly asked him.

    Yang Xuan took two steps forward and said in a cloying tone, “Want to know?”

    Tang Junhe looked at him bashfully and nodded, “Mmn.”

    Yang Xuan drawled, “But I don’t want to say it.” After saying that, he pushed the door into his room.

    Tang Junhe had failed to strike up a conversation so his eyes instantly dimmed. He dejectedly went back to his room.

    After a while, Tang Xiaonian pushed the door in, came over and gently tapped his head to ask, “Why are you in a daze?”

    Tang Junhe returned to his senses and said, “It’s nothing.”

    “Just what did Yang Chengchuan say to you?” Tang Xiaonian sat on the edge of his bed and asked, “Why did I hear something about going abroad? Tell me, is he planning to send Yang Xuan abroad?”

    “Maybe,” Tang Junhe answered Tang Xiaonian’s question sullenly, “he also said he would send me abroad.”

    “What nonsense!?” Tang Xiaonian objected with her almond-shaped eyes, “You have good grades, there’s no need for you to go abroad. It’s so far and also not safe. Don’t you see the news reported every day? There’s gunfire and violence almost everywhere. I’m telling you, nowhere is as safe as our China…”

    Tang Junhe muttered, “I don’t want to go abroad either.”

    “Don’t even think about it,” said Tang Xiaonian, “Look at yourself, you can’t do anything, and you’ll just starve yourself to death if you go abroad.”

    “Didn’t I already say I’m not going?” Tang Junhe didn’t want to continue talking about this. He then pulled open the drawer and took out the chocolate that he had exchanged from Ying Hui last time, took out a piece and handed it to Tang Xiaonian, “Mom, here, eat this.”

    Tang Xiaonian took a look at the exquisite packaging and can already smell how expensive it is. She did not rush to eat it and held it in her hand to examine it: “What is this?”

    Tang Junhe unwrapped the wrapper and stuffed a piece into his mouth, “Chocolate.”

    “Of course I know it’s chocolate!” Tang Xiaonian recalled the incident a few days ago when he suspected Tang Junhe of early love and inquired discontentedly, “Who gave it to you?”

    “I bought it myse—” Tang Junhe changed his mind halfway through the sentence, “Yang Xuan gave it to me.”

    Tang Xiaonian was suspicious: “So, why did he give you this?”

    “I don’t know,” Tang Junhe hung his head and folded a small paper airplane using the wrapping paper, saying as he did so, “He’s pretty good to me.”

    Tang Xiaonian did not take it seriously and stuffed the chocolate into her mouth, qualifying this anomaly: “The weasel pays respect to the hen without the best of intentions!”

    “Do you understand it or not?!” Tang Xiaonian glared at him.

    “He’s not a weasel and I’m not a chicken.” Tang Junhe quipped.

    “Knowledge goes in the belly of the dog!” Tang Xiaonian countered.

    Tang Junhe curled his lip and didn’t say anything more.

***

    In a few moments, Tang Xiaonian finished the chocolate, smacked her lips twice, “It’s quite delicious.”

    Tang Junhe shoved the box of chocolates into Tang Xiaonian’s arms, “Give it all to you to eat.”

    “This is what children eat, you keep it for yourself,” Tang Xiaonian put the chocolate box back on his table, “If you like to eat more I’ll find out where they sell it next time. It’s not like we can’t afford it, we don’t need his handouts.”

    Tang Xiaonian stood up, went behind Tang Junhe and rubbed his hair twice, “Still folding airplanes at your age? You’re in your third year of high school, why do you still act like a kid every day? Anyway, brush your teeth and go to bed early, you hear me?”

    Tang Junhe nodded obediently, “Yeah.”

    Tang Xiaonian left the room satisfied. As long as Tang Junhe stopped talking back to her, she was one hundred and twenty percent satisfied with her son.

    The next morning, after breakfast, Tang Junhe put on his school bag and was about to change his shoes to go out, when Tang Xiaonian poked her head out of the bathroom and said, “Wait! It may rain today, take an umbrella with you.”

    Tang Junhe changed his shoes, turned around and opened the door of the cabinet in the foyer and leaned in to find an umbrella.

    “Not here.”

    Tang Xiaonian hurriedly came over, “It’s not raining for a long time so I put it away last time.” With that, she went into another room and chattered, “It’s not too late today, there’s no need to rush…”

    Tang Junhe was waiting at the door when Yang Xuan came out of his room, and changed his shoes. Ignoring Tang Junhe’s eager eyes, he swept past him and pushed out the door.

    “Mom–” Tang Junhe saw him walk out and said urgently, “Did you find it?”

    “Found it, found it.” Tang Xiaonian said, but had not yet walked out of the room.

    “I don’t need an umbrella—” Tang Junhe dropped this sentence, pushed the door and left.

    Tang Xiaonian chased after him in her slippers: “Take your umbrella with you! You can afford to take some time off. It would hardly make a difference!”

    As the elevator went down from the 7th floor, Tang Junhe failed to catch up. He saw Tang Xiaonian chasing him out, so he could only turn back, and ran downstairs in a hurry after taking the umbrella.

    “Slow down,” Tang Xiaonian shouted at him, “it’s not late, what’s the hurry?”

    Tang Junhe kept going down the stairs, running breathlessly for fear that Yang Xuan would not wait for him and leave first.

    By the time he reached the ground floor, he looked around and saw that Yang Xuan was no longer in the hallway. He chased after him in a panic, and saw Yang Xuan riding past on his bike at the end of the green path.

    That back looks idle and comfortable with no intention to avoid him at all, on the contrary, it seems like the back seat was not meant for others to sit on.

    Tang Junhe stood in a daze on that path for a long time, until a car coming from the entrance of the district honked at him, signaling him to give way and only then did he wake up as if in a dream.

    Yang Xuan did not wait for him and left on his own, and Tang Junhe accepted this reality with a sense of loss.

    Yang Xuan did not say last night that he would definitely go to and from school with him either—since the very beginning, he never acquiesced to that. At first, he took him to and from school only because of Zhou Lin, out of his kindness and his own begging. Tang Junhe thought that now that Zhou Lin, a potential threat, had been eliminated, there was really no need for Yang Xuan to take him to and from school.

    Tang Junhe took out his bus card from his school bag, clutched it in his hand, and walked alone towards the bus stop.

    He was so lost in thought that he missed two buses before he could get on one. When he arrived at the classroom, the morning study was almost over and the class teacher was grabbing the last ten minutes to give chicken soup to the students in the class.

    “There is still one year remaining. It’s not long, but it’s not short either. For those who are interested in moving up, it’s not too late to start making an effort, and all the students who can enter our third class are the top students in the city, and we are all on the same level intellectually—” As she was saying that, Tang Junhe knocked on the door. 

    ‘Late for the first day of school, this is definitely an attitude problem.’ The class teacher turned her face coldly and just wanted to catch the person at the door and give him a lecture, but when she turned around and saw Tang Junhe, she swallowed the words in her throat, barely calming her anger and said, “Hurry up and go in.”

    Tang Junhe walked to his seat with his head down, and before he sat down, he couldn’t help but glance at Yang Xuan again. Yang Xuan was looking down at some book, as if he had not heard of his tardiness and didn’t raise his head even for a sec.

    Without saying anything, Tang Junhe sat down and put his school bag into the hole of his desk.

    “Why are you late?” Yin Cong lowered her head, hidden behind a small mountain of textbooks, and asked him in an airy voice.

    Tang Junhe shook his head and said nothing.

    Yin Cong went on to say, “It’s probably fine, you got first in the exam, the class teacher won’t say anything to you.”

    The class teacher’s anger that had just been held back finally roared out at this point: “Yin Cong! What did I just say?!”

    Yin Cong’s eyes widened as she tried to dig out a tiny bit of useful information from inside her head.

    The boy at the front desk turned his face and whispered a reminder, “Learning is…”

    Immediately, Yin Cong shouted the cliché old saying, which had been recited a hundred times by the class teacher: “Learning is like sailing against the current, if you don’t advance, you will fall back!”

    The class teacher looked at her and sighed, “Gather your wits, you guys!”

    After realizing that Yang Xuan did not want to go to and from school with him, Tang Junhe did not try to provoke him again.

    Too far is as bad as not enough

    This truth, he still understands. The look Yang Xuan gave him that night passed through his mind a thousand times, and every time it did, it was enough to make him stir.

    He felt that he showed too much goodwill and that made Yang Xuan hate him. According to his observation of Yang Xuan, Yang Xuan is not a person who will show love and hatred in an obvious way. Therefore, if he doesn’t like a person, it shows up as being indifferent, placid and callous.

    Tang Junhe began to become cautious—he was afraid that Yang Xuan would disappear again. Even though they were still in school, he always had the feeling that if Yang Xuan wanted to disappear, no one would be able to stop him.

    Tang Junhe consciously controlled his possessiveness of Yang Xuan to the lowest degree possible – Yang Xuan can ignore him and not listen to him, but he can never leave Tang Junhe’s field of vision.

    As long as he could see Yang Xuan every day, he was satisfied.

    The students entering their senior year are gradually winding down, and some are beginning to stay in class for evening study on their own. Due to the quality of education in the school, the class teacher did not give a mandatory order explicitly, but she eventually expressed her wish for everyone to stay.

    Tang Junhe is one of the small groups of people who don’t need to study at night. For him, it’s the same whether he studies in the classroom or at home. As long as he is not distracted by thoughts of Yang Xuan, he can concentrate on his studies for hours. This seems to be a rare talent, and if there is a category of people in the world who are naturally “fit to learn” perhaps he can be among them.

    One weekend in late September, Tang Xiaonian was cutting fruit for Tang Junhe in the kitchen when several unexpected guests suddenly came to the house. Feng Bo took the lead, leading Wangxin Chun, Chen Hao and Ying Hui to knock on Yang Xuan’s door.

    The main purpose of coming is to look for Yang Xuan, and the other is that Feng Bo and Chen Hao want to take the opportunity to see how the “third-rate woman” looked like, how she can charm the vice mayor of Runcheng for half a lifetime.

    As soon as Tang Xiaonian opened the door, she saw several boys and girls aged 17 or 18 standing outside the door, and was stunned at first, then reacted that they might be Tang Junhe’s classmates, so she pulled out a warm smile and let several people in.

    “You are Junhe’s classmates, right?” Tang Xiaonian asked with some restraint, this was the first time students had come into the house.

    Feng Bo did not intend to give her face at all and said first, “We are Yang Xuan’s classmates.”

    This one sentence made Tang Xiaonian’s heart uncomfortable, and the smile on her face froze. Seeing her expression grow cold, Ying Hui reached out and patted Feng Bo’s arm. She smiled at Tang Xiaonian and said, “He was joking aunt, we are in the same class as Yang Xuan and Tang Junhe.”

    As they were talking, Yang Xuan, who was using the computer in his study, heard the commotion outside, pulled open the door and came out, “Why are you all here?”

    “Come to you to discuss your birthday,” Feng Bo removed the hostility on his face, walked up and said to Yang Xuan, “we intend to go to the mountain to have a picnic, we can also do camping there if you like. Brother Xuan, what do you think?”

    Yang Xuan did not show much interest, just asked, “When?”

    “On National Day, we have 2 days of vacation. We have to book in advance.” It was said to be for Yang Xuan’s birthday, but in fact it was a trip out for two days under the banner of birthday. After all, they are suffocated behind the textbooks every day, there’s a small test for three days and a big test for seven days. Lazy students like Feng Bo already feel that there’s a musty smell coming out of their bodies, so they are seizing the opportunity to go out and relax a bit.

    Yang Xuan already knew what was going on in their minds, and he didn’t say much about it, “Whatever.”

    Tang Xiaonian has retreated to the kitchen, and is now surreptitiously surveying several people in the living room.

    She had to say, she was a little jealous—they were all in the same class, but Yang Xuan was obviously a little more popular than Tang Junhe. These young students, from the clothes, should be from a well-off family, especially the only girl who speaks with a smile. This little lady who definitely comes from a wealthy family, her beaming eyes never left Yang Xuan since he came out.

    Tang Xiaonian thought of Tang Junhe’s performance during the summer vacation—he didn’t think about tea, he didn’t want to eat. He couldn’t have been attracted to this girl, right? And this girl happens to like Yang Xuan? Tang Xiaonian pondered in her heart, and made up a love triangle.

    At this time, Tang Junhe came out of the bathroom and saw several people. He had no intention to greet them, but a second before he withdrew his gaze, Ying Hui waved at him and said “Hi” with a smile.

    Just now in the bathroom, Tang Junhe heard them talking about a picnic outside, and then out of curiosity, he took the opportunity to ask, “Where are you going?”

    “Going to the mountains for a picnic,” Ying Hui finished, not forgetting to invite him out of courtesy, “You wanna come too?”

    Tang Junhe wanted to go, but also did not want to go. If he did not go, he might not see Yang Xuan in those two days, but if he went, he felt that these people would not welcome him.

    Unexpectedly, Tang Xiaonian came out at this time, carrying a fruit plate to Ying Hui and politely invited her to eat the fruit first, and inquired, “Just a few of you will go?”

    “Not only us, everyone in the class who has time will go by then,” Ying Hui said with a smile, “It’s not easy to have a holiday, and there is no need to attend classes, I think everyone will be going.”

    “Is it safe?” Tang Xiaonian asked again, this newly popular way of gathering was something she had never been exposed to before.

    “Safe, tents are provided by the scenic area, the mountain road is also regularly repaired. I’ve been there once before with my brother, it’s been done for years, nothing unsafe.” Ying Hui replied generously.

    “Do you want to go?” Tang Xiaonian turned her head and asked Tang Junhe, “If you want to go, go.”

    In fact, she wanted Tang Junhe to come along with them. Just now in the kitchen, she looked at Yang Xuan, and then at Tang Junhe, and suddenly there was a surge of injustice in her heart—obviously there was only a year difference in age, but Yang Xuan was tall and sturdy, and there was some maturity in his speech, but her own son had never grown up.

    In terms of looks, Tang Junhe is more outstanding than these kids who just arrived, and Tang Xiaonian is confident of this. In terms of stature, although Tang Junhe grew a little later, he only started growing in his first year of high school, and now he is only 1.7 meters, but he is well-developed, slender and has an upright posture. In the eyes of Tang Xiaonian, nothing can be wrong with that. But when compared with peers, especially with Yang Xuan, he seems to be too childish.

    Tang Xiaonian thought indignantly that Tang Junhe’s height difference was all due to the nutrition that Yang Xuan had taken away. She did not believe that if Tang Junhe had grown up in this kind of environment when he was a child, he would still be shorter by head than Yang Xuan.

    Thinking about this, Tang Xiaonian could not control her inner dissatisfaction, and blamed Yang Chengchuan and Yang Xuan—if Yang Xuan had not snatched Tang Junhe’s father away that year, would Tang Junhe still be so introverted, socially awkward, and overly naive now?

    “Go,” Tang Xiaonian continued, “it’s good to relax with your classmates for two days.”

    In September, Runcheng, where rain has always been frequent, received a few rainstorms every now and then. The weather is rapidly turning cooler and the students of No. 1 High School have changed into their dark blue fall and winter uniforms.

    The few people who led the camping trip got together and started talking about the weather, fearing that the two days booked would not be beautiful, and if the mountains were closed, then the busy camping trip would all be a bust. The reservation for the National holiday is extremely tight, and Feng Bo has made several connections to contact the head of the scenic camping business before they can take it.


Translator’s Note:

Why can Tang Xiaonian also easily put the blame to Yang Xuan? Wasn’t he a child like Tang Junhe back then too? I’m too tired of her reasoning when translating this chapter tbh.

Anyway, special thanks for those supporting me on ko-fi! Also for my readers who doesn’t use ad blockers, I might be silent on the comment section but please believe that I appreciate you all ❤️

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For those who are wondering why the updates are so slow these days, I’m still using my phone for translating. It takes 3x the amount of time to finish a chapter compared to when I’m using a PC. QAQ


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Mei
A Japanese language student that decided to translate Chinese Novels during the pandemic. If you want to support us, you can buy us a ko-fi. To maintain the site and support the translators as well. Thank you for reading!
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susan

Thankyou for your hard work. We really appreciate it ❤️

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